Ending the criminalization of journalism is the first step toward guaranteeing press freedom in Guatemala

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2024
CONTACT: 
Yanci Nuñez | [email protected]  (773) 638-4278

 

 

Justice is slowly being served in the criminal prosecution against journalist José Rubén Zamora, founder and editor of the newspaper elPeriódico, who has been held for 655 days in military barracks as part of criminal proceedings for money laundering, influence peddling racketeering, and forging documents. The Ninth Criminal Sentencing Court of Guatemala recently ordered that he be granted conditional release in the money laundering case. However, given that the other criminal proceedings remain open with orders of deprivation of liberty, he will remain incarcerated. This judicial decision represents a significant step towards achieving justice in the criminalization of professional practice against a renowned journalist. 

 

Throughout his career, José Rubén Zamora has carried out more than 1,000 journalistic investigations that uncovered corruption in Guatemala, including 200 reports on crimes committed under the government of Alejandro Giammattei (2020-2024). Since his work at elPeriódico, he has denounced injustices and illicit acts committed by people in public office in Guatemala. On Tuesday, May 14, the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Journalism awarded him the Gabo 2024 Award for Excellence. 

 

It is crucial to strengthen an independent administration of justice, within the framework of the rule of law, so that it is not used as a tool to persecute journalism. It is essential to put an end to the criminal prosecution of journalists as a strategy to silence them with crimes against honor or reputation, verbal aggression, or the administration of resources, among others.

 

Alianza Americas calls on the international community and the Guatemalan authorities to respect human rights and guarantee freedom of the press. Putting an end to the criminalization of journalism is a first step. Clarifying the criminal proceedings and releasing José Rubén Zamora will be a significant sign that steps are being taken to protect press freedom, which is one of the pillars of democracy.

 

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Alianza Americas is the premier transnational advocacy network of Latin American migrant-led organizations working in the United States, across the Americas, and globally to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life for communities across North, Central and South America.

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